Ignorance is the cause of suffering

The goal of the Rime Shedra is to make accessible the vast treasures of Buddhist wisdom to those who wish to progress further in their understanding of the profound principles presented in these advanced Buddhist texts. The understanding of the ultimate nature of reality is the key to liberation. For practitioners this program provides an opportunity to develop a more sophisticated understanding of the nature of reality.  For scholars it provides an opportunity to expand their understanding of Buddhism by cultivating an experiential understanding. The program is based upon the traditional Shedra, or monastic college, curriculum which is the cornerstone of Buddhist education in all of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

Vipashyana: The Indian Root Sources

While having its roots in the system of meditation presented in the earliest Buddhist sutras, what we actually practice today in terms of the system of shamatha and vipashyana was formulated in the early centuries of the first millennium in India. In this course, we will study the main texts that come down to us today from the Indian genre that describe that system.  In a later course, we will study the main meditation texts of the Tibetan genre. We are incredibly fortunate that these texts are now available in viable translations.

There are two main Indian sources: the famous eighth chapter of the Samdhinirmocana Sutra (or Sutra Explaining the Intention, i.e. of the Buddha, circa 2nd– 3rd century BCE), focused exclusively on shamatha and vipashyana, along with the help of a commentary by Shri Jnanagarbha; and the Bhavanakramas of Kamalashila (circa late 8th century BCE), which he composed as a condensation of the entire system of meditation as it had been fleshed out by the then fully developed Mahayana tradition of his day, and which includes a wonderful presentation of the cultivation of bodhicitta and shamatha as preliminaries and how to dedicate the merit and arise from meditation at the end, surrounding a much longer presentation of the development vipashyana as the cultivation of the three prajnas of hearing, contemplation, and meditation.

Additionally, there are a number of shorter texts which present more concisely what is the standard scheme for the practice of vipashyana, that is, cultivating the understanding of the emptiness of all external phenomena, then of the mind, then of discriminating awareness itself, and then finally resting, or letting go of any mental complexity entirely. This includes excerpts from the Lankavatara Sutra, Nagarjuna's Bodhicittavivarana, and the entirety of Atisha's very short Madhyamakopadesha.


Core Materials

  1. Sourcebook
  2. Secondary Sourcebook

Supplemental Materials

  1. Classical Reasons for Selflessness, Five- and Seven-Fold
  2. "Objects of Observation" from Study and Practice of Meditation
  3. "Pervasive Objects of Observation" from Study and Practice of Meditation
  4. "Meditation and the Concept of Insight" in Kamalasila’s Bhavanakramas

Class Recordings

  1. January 29, 2013
  2. February 5, 2013
  3. February 12, 2013
  4. February 19, 2013
  5. February 26, 2013
  6. March 5, 2013
  7. March 12, 2013
  8. March 19, 2013
  9. April 2, 2013
  10. April 23, 2013